I spent this entire movie giggling like an idiot, and I still haven’t stopped.
Blood, blood, and more blood.
Yokohama, the year 20XX (yes, really). The end of the world as we know it has been and gone. Vicious gangs of killers roam the land, and one young woman is looking for revenge. Her name is Haru, and she is looking to kill the one responsible for the death of her lover. She finds Milly in the hope that she will help, or at least train her. Milly has her own problems though. She is being hunted by the last surviving friend of the man she killed: the man who murdered her husband and baby and left her for dead. These two revenge quests will come together in a battle which may be somewhat bloody.
If you are looking for films that show a complete disregard for basic human physiology, where the slightest scratch results in a geyser of blood, where a decapitated corpse can still raise a defiant middle finger before succumbing to gravity, then look no further than Japan. Bloody Battle follows the same example set by such glorious gorefests as The Machine Girl and Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl: reality is for pussies. To illustrate the deliriously funny heights of violence this film reaches, one character loses all the fingers on his hand in a swordfight. That’s not too bad, you’re probably thinking. But what about when I tell you that he lifts up his stumpy arm for a Looney Tunes moment of realisation before the blood starts spraying like a high-pressure garden hose? Think Wile E. Coyote running in mid-air off the edge of a cliff. It is impossible not to love a film where a swinging nunchuk can take a man’s jaw clean off and send it flying across the room.
Bloody Battle is the 2009 sequel to the previous year’s Hard Revenge Milly, in which our heroine (played by the beautiful Miki Mizuno) was left for dead after her family was wiped out, only for her to survive and be fitted with all sorts of groovy mechanical upgrades including a shotgun hidden inside her leg, and don’t even get me started on her chest. While the first was a straight-forward hack’n’slash extravaganza, Bloody Battle develops the story in several interesting ways. By making Milly the target this time, writer/director Takanori Tsujimoto makes the point that revenge is never over. By getting your vengeance on those who have wronged you, you will be leaving others who wish vengeance for what you have done. The cycle continues, and the only way it stops is when there is nobody left to swing the last sword or squeeze the last trigger. The other big question raised is one of free will and the nature of self. Milly’s constant headaches lead her to wonder whether her brain is entirely her own anymore, or if it has been “upgraded” as well. And if it has, then is she really on a personal quest or is she just a tool of someone else? Maybe a question the hopefully inevitable third part of the story can answer.
You’ll be pleased to hear that Bloody Battle thoroughly lives up to its name when it comes to the fight scenes. Tsujimoto is working with a slightly bigger budget this time around so he is able to expand on the world of Hard Revenge Milly just as much as he did with the thematic elements. There are more locations (although they all still seem to be abandoned warehouses…) and the walled town of Land creates a space for a few more characters and some interesting sets such as the surgeon’s place where Milly goes for maintenance. But all that aside, this flick really comes alive during the various bust-ups. Makeup effects legend and director of Tokyo Gore Police, Yoshihiro Nishimura, brings his A-game to the hilariously over the top carnage. The one throwaway gag that I don’t think will ever be topped is when Milly hits a guy so hard in the back of the head that his eyes pop out into his goggles, followed by the standard arterial spray of course.
I watched Hard Revenge Milly: Bloody Battle on Netflix today. The first part isn’t online for streaming, but both are available on a single-disc DVD to buy or rent. The two films together come in at under 2 hours, so get the beers in and bring the guys round. Thank me later.